So I spent the morning watching reports on ESPN about the issues the Miami Dolphins are having. I listened to the commentary, did my reading, and read opinions on facebook. I would like to address an issue that came up several times.
***THIS IS HAZING THAT THEY ARE DOING***
It is not ok. Period. It is about power and control, not membership.
First, let’s address some comments from reports and claims being made. There are statements justifying it as Martin’s fault because he did not go to the coach or team leaders. Problems with that are that they are victim blaming (this is not at all a time to blame Martin, except to protect yourself and your ways which have been found outdated, abusive, and archaic) and that there is a lot of info to combat these claims. First, there is also a report claiming that the coaching staff (or a member of it) suggested to Incognito to “toughen” up Martin. Already a problem before we even get to Incognito. You are in a professional position and encouraging hazing. If that was done in another professional setting, the results would be disastrous for the person doing the hazing. As for going to the team leadership, most reports from players inside of the locker room say that Incognito is the leader. How do you report your issue with leadership to that leadership? It is this lack of support that leads to situations like this and that of Joseph Snell who when rushing a fraternity spent time in the hospital due to hazing incidents. After this, he proceeded to call the organizations national headquarters as a concerned father and when that failed, wrote a letter as a woman who was taken advantage of by the brothers in order to get an investigation…and you want to say there is not an issue with hazing?
When it comes to ESPN folks, they keep defending Incognito, protecting the “football family”. This becomes even more vigorous as reports come out about Martin looking for a way out. So a man is bullied and mistreated in his professional position and when it comes out, it is suddenly his fault. Does anyone else see that as messed up? On top of that, an ex-football star came on and stated that he went through the exact same thing. It was meant to toughen him up. He had to do things like buy people dinner.
WAIT…what?!?!? How on earth does that relate at all to what Martin went through and toughening a guy up? Am I the only one missing the connection here?
How about those facebook comments? One gentleman said that things did get out of hand, but Martin should have toughened up and told the coaches. He also said that events like these are ok when kept in check by the coaches and team leaders. Let’s talk about that. Hazing has the same roots as rape. Did you catch that, RAPE! Power and Control. It is not about tearing a person down to build them back up to your organization. If you have to tear me down to make me what you want, you are discounting all the value I had before. As for being a man and toughening up, if you have to beat, batter, and abuse me physically, mentally, and emotionally to do that, you have no place calling or referring to yourself as a man. I would have far more respect for the person to stand up and stop it.
Let’s talk about that idea of tearing down to build up as well as the fact that hazing is always a physical thing. Look at the story of Joel Harris. He was never physically hazed, but had a heart condition that at the age of 2 had to be operated on. He watched his fellow pledge brothers being beaten to take his share and had heart failure. He died and never had the chance to be raised up. He was never physically abused.
The stories are endless about hazing. In the NFL, men like Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning talk about going through it. People use that as a justification. Would you really tell that to someone who does not feel safe in their working environment?
When it comes to hazing, it is not a good thing. We ban it, but that doesn’t always change it. It goes underground and people turn a blind eye. You know what happen then? The case of Clay Warren. He died in his pledging process and it led to a change in the Texas State Legislature requiring each student organizations at universities in the state to go through yearly risk management training. It has made a dent…but a very small one.
It is time for a change. Will you be the change to the culture or the one to reinforce hazing?
***As an update, these references come from Sports Center, First Take, and Black Greek 101 by Dr Walter Kimbrough***